Objective Life Circumstances and Life Satisfaction
Results from the Course of Homelessness Study
Relations between objective life circumstances and life satisfaction were examined using structural equation modeling of two waves of data obtained from homeless and mentally ill homeless participants (N=298) in the Course of Homelessness Study (COH). Cross-sectional analyses revealed that objective indexes of life quality were primarily associated with domain-specific, rather than general, life satisfaction. Results could not be attributed to the covariation of life satisfaction with other indexes of subjective well-being (i.e., psychological symptoms and perceived self-mastery). In addition, significant direct ("causal") cross-lagged effects were found linking initial objective housing status with subsequent income and subsequent satisfaction with housing. By contrast, neither life satisfaction nor any other index of subjective well-being exerted a direct impact on subsequent life quality as assessed by objective indexes. Finally, the authors found no support for previous claims that perceived self-mastery mediates the impact of objective life circumstances on subsequent life satisfaction. Findings are discussed with reference to the utility of a hierarchical model of life satisfaction that incorporates domain-specific, as well as global, satisfaction.